The $2 Trillion Project to Get Saudi Arabia’s Economy Off Oil

On April 25 the prince is scheduled to unveil his “Vision for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” an historic plan encompassing broad economic and social changes. It includes the creation of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, which will eventually hold more than $2 trillion in assets—enough to buy all of Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Berkshire Hathaway, the world’s four largest public companies. The prince plans an IPO that could sell off “less than 5 percent” of Saudi Aramco, the national oil producer, which will be turned into the world’s biggest industrial conglomerate. The fund will diversify into nonpetroleum assets, hedging the kingdom’s nearly total dependence on oil for revenue. The tectonic moves “will technically make investments the source of Saudi government revenue, not oil,” the prince says. “So within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil.”

Prince Mohammed won’t go into details about any planned nonoil investments, but he says the gargantuan sovereign fund will team up with private equity firms to eventually invest half its holdings overseas, excluding the Aramco stake, in assets that will produce a steady stream of dividends unmoored from fossil fuels. He knows that many people aren’t convinced. “This is why I’m sitting with you today,” he says in mid-April. “I want to convince our public of what we are doing, and I want to convince the world.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-04-21/the-2-trillion-project-to-get-saudi-arabia-s-economy-off-oil

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